(real) Eggs this Easter

Happy Easter from the Weidman family!  Our first Easter as a family of 4!

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We want to invite you into a unique opportunity to support one of our projects this Easter season.  As many of you know and maybe have followed along with on our Facebook feeds, one of our principle ministries is an egg farm we run that provides eggs to local preschool children.  We currently have 252 children sponsored via this program, which is roughly 1/4th of all of the preschool-aged kids in our town!  Our goal is to reach 800 children sponsored via this program, which would put an egg a day into the mouths of every 3-5 year old child in Masatepe.  Research shows that animal proteins are a vital element of development at that specific age range, which is why this is such an important initiative to us.  Most of these children are not getting 3 full meals a day and are lacking holistic diets in general, so this not only provides daily sustenance, but also educates the community in the importance of investing in children at this vital stage of their development.

As we maintain our farm as a sustainable provider of these eggs, we occasionally need to sell off under-productive chickens.  Our goal is to sell 500 chickens this week, of which we’ve currently sold 215.  We’d like to invite you into this program by offering the opportunity to purchase a chicken for a Nicaraguan family at just $4/piece.  We will deliver these birds to local families and churches as a small gift in light of the Easter season, and the income will go to replacing those chickens with new, more productive ones on our farm.


1 Chicken = $4
10 Chickens = $40
100 Chickens = $400
Small investment, big impact.



Give:
https://www.betos.org/products/eggs-for-easter



Find out more:
http://www.oneegg.org/oneeggchapters/nicaragua/

 

Hannah with Doña Coco delivering chicken

Local pastors being blessed with chickens  Egg-laying chickens Our flockEgg donations

Lydia Faye

For those who have been following along with us on social media over the past few months, you know by now that we’ve been on a bit of an expected journey this year.  In May, I (Brandon) went on a fishing trip in Wyoming with my good friend Robbie Lathrop, a fellow missionary in Nicaragua.  Looking forward to a week of silence, solitude, fly-fishing and camaraderie, you can imagine my disappointment when a few days in I got hit with a virus that would take the wind out of my sails for the duration of the trip and finally reveal itself as the Zika virus on the final day before heading home.  I apparently had been bitten by a Zika-infected mosquito while still back in Nicaragua, and the virus set in days later, as is typical with mosquito-borne viruses.

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Weeks prior to my fishing trip, Hannah had decided to take advantage of me being gone on that fishing trip to book herself a little getaway back in Indiana.  She flew out a few days before I did, taking Lucas with her to visit friends and family back home.  At nearly 6 months pregnant, she was excited to celebrate this special season of life with those she’s closest to.  It was a trip that we had a hard time deciding on because of finances, but we both needed to recharge our batteries and we both knew exactly what would do just that.  Thank God for that decision.

When I flew back into Nicaragua, I soon found out that the Zika virus was running rampant in Masatepe.  Most of our friends, coworkers, and neighbors had contracted it.  Of the 4 of us Americans on our team that were there at the time, we all got the virus within a few weeks of each other.  Hannah’s trip was soon to come to an end and we had to decide what to do.  Leaving her in the US in order to avoid any risk of obtaining Zika while pregnant was the obvious answer, but we didn’t have US-based health insurance.  The thought of incurring the costs of the childbirth without insurance was a daunting idea.  We quickly contacted ITeams and asked what our options were, and within a few days we had found out that Hannah qualified for a “life event” that would allow her to get back on our ITeams’ group policy!  I couldn’t believe a woman that was 6 months pregnant would find any insurance policy that would pick her up at that point.  It was a complete God-send.

We cancelled Hannah’s return flight and settled in for what would end up being 3 months of unexpected separation.  For weeks, we were nervously awaiting the results of a blood test, unsure if Hannah had contracted the virus before leaving or not.  What a relief when it came back negative. Hannah stayed with family and her pregnancy developed through months 7, 8 and 9.  Lucas grew from 15 months old to 18 months old during that time, in which many things were developing in his little world.  He began to walk, and then run on his own, as Hannah and I did our best to Facetime each other daily so I could keep up with their quickly evolving lives!  It was hard not being together for such a special season for our family.  I hung on as long as I could in Nicaragua, and then on August 1st, I flew home to be reunited with Hannah and Lucas!  It was the sweetest reunion any of us may ever experience!

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Two weeks later, on August 13th, our precious little daughter was born!  I was able to spend the last two weeks of Hannah’s pregnancy at her side, and be there for the 12 hours in the hospital leading up to Lydia Faye’s grand entrance!  I couldn’t have asked for a grander gift!

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Lydia’s little life is one that is already marked with the clear touch of her Lord and Creator.  From the very moment we became aware of her conception, which was literally DAYS after we finalized the adoption of Lucas, to the miraculous protection He provided her by timing Hannah’s quick get-away to the US only a few days before Zika swept through our town, to the provision of insurance and finances to continue forward with the birth in the US, we have no doubt that her life will be one of significance in His Kingdom.

We chose the name Lydia after the businesswoman we read about in Acts 16:13-15, who is recognized for being a worshiper of God, one who has an open heart to believing the Gospel, and one who opens up her home to invite other believers in to share life together.  We chose the name Faye, which means Faith.  In Spanish, the spelling of “faith” is “fe”, but is pronounced “fay”.  We wanted her name to be bilingual, sounding similar in both languages, just like her brother’s name, Lucas Oliver.

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Lucas Oliver and Lydia Faye are the two most precious gifts God could ever give to Hannah and I, and he’s used their lives already to bless many others by their living testimonies.  They both came to us on the verge of terrifying circumstances and they were rescued by His grace alone.  Yet, while we count our blessings, we can only continue to pray for those children who are coming into this world in places like Nicaragua where life-threatening viruses are a reality, and from families where brokenness mandates giving a child up for adoption, and we full-heartedly recognize the dire need for His grace and salvation to be extended into innumerable families and communities around the world.  The good news is, we are invited to be the messengers to do just that…the bearers of Good News.

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Why Kickstarter?

Spreading Cheer!

We imagine by now you are aware our Kickstarter Campaign for Beto’s Coffee Company launched the beginning of the month. If you are in our Facebook network, the announcement has been dominating the newsfeed! Thanks to everyone who has faithfully and fiercely shared it! We are at a point where the average backer is not someone we know personally, but they’ve heard about it through you! It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the movie Elf… yes, I’m about to quote Elf.

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Thank you for spreading Beto’s cheer!

We also had our products featured in a couple of different coffee industry articles, broadening our network even more and bringing great exposure to the business!

Check out the write-ups here:

– Up Cycle That

– Pure Coffee Blog

– Coffee Detective

Another highlight is the additional exposure we’re getting in country. We’ve had numerous business owners reach out to us with interest of displaying/selling our products in their stores!

Why Kickstarter?

Possibly this question has crossed your mind. Typically, Kickstarter is used to launch an idea for a product or project. In our situation, we already have the product, we just need more people to know about it! Kickstarter enabled us to officially launch our website and to grow our customer base quickly. Due to our limited exposure before now, our supply grew faster than our demand and we were forced to lay off several workers at the beginning of this year….not just workers, but people we love and consider to be part of our team. They are eager to get back to sewing and creating, and we’re ready to have them back, too!

The model we have with the coffee shop and the products we make in-house isn’t your average situation. The business has 3 primary goals: 1) to be sustainable 2) to employ locals who can join us in serving the community 3) to give back to the community. For it to be sustainable it must be profitable, have sales, and grow economically. Likewise to employ locals. However, it’s not to be considered a charity. It does have the responsibility to contribute towards community development and support ministries, but the ability to do that comes from profits, not from donations.

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Next Steps!

Now we are a week away from the campaign ending and still have 15% of our goal to reach, just around $4,000. So we’re close, but these last few days are critical! Please take the time to do the following:

  1. Share one of the above blog posts on your Facebook.  For many people, seeing another website post about a product or project adds credibility.
  2. Reshare the campaign on Facebook to remind your networks that time is running out!  Use this link:  http://kck.st/1JXTfJu
  3. Check back in with your friends and family that you have already engaged with about the campaign and ask them if they were able to back the campaign. Remind them time is running out and thank them for considering backing now!
  4. Become a backer yourself!  If you haven’t backed yet, you can do so for as low as $5 and that helps drive up the # of backers which instills confidence for those watching.
  5. Think of one person you are connected to on Facebook that is “celebrity” status in the social media realm, and send them a private message asking them to share the campaign for a good cause.  The right person sharing this to thousands of followers could make all the difference in the world at this point!
  6. That’s it! We’re looking forward to watching Beto’s Coffee Company cross the finish line on March 3rd, as we’re standing next to each of you cheering on this team of amazingly talented Nicaraguans who deserve this opportunity to use their God-given gifts to provide for their families, their ministries and their community in the most honorable way possible, by working hard and earning it.

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Muchísimas Gracias from the Beto’s team!!

Renewing Support

For those of you who have been with us since the very beginning, you probably remember the intense phase of “sell everything and fundraise” that we went through in early 2012.  Leaving the world of being self-supported and entering the world of being support-funded was one of the tougher transitions we’ve gone through in our marriage (right up there with going from no children to adoptive parents overnight, moving to a Country where we don’t speak the language, and launching a bunch of businesses in a developing Country where EVERYTHING is different).  But in each major life transition we have come out the other end with an even greater level of awe at God’s provision and protection.

We are getting ready to enter another big life transition as we enter what we are calling the Year of Growth. In 2016, we will transition from a team of two, to a team of ten living and working for ITeams here in Masatepe, AND we will also transition from a family of three, to a family of four!  As things have developed over these past 4 years, we have continued to live off of the original support we raised back in 2012.  For those of you who have stuck with us since the beginning, thank you, and praise God for that provision!  This year, with our growing life situation, we are now faced with the same need to fundraise that we faced in those early days.  It can be overwhelming, humbling, and sometimes frustrating to be honest, but we’re looking forward to standing in awe of His provision once again.

As you may have picked up on the subtle hint at the end of Hannah’s last blog post, we found out we are expecting another child this August!  As is the case with so many couples, we finalized an adoption and literally days later found out we were pregnant.  Lucas’ adoption was a whole learning curve in and of itself, as we adopted as Nicaraguan Residents and not US Citizens.  Dealing with the government adoption agency, the lawyers and the Courts, all in our second language, was a leap of faith in itself, but we made it through.  This next child will lead us down another set of unknown roads as we experience being pregnant and giving birth in a developing country.  One thing we do know in advance, however, is that we will have to private pay for the entire process in a private hospital in Managua.  One advantage of living in a developing country is that the cost of private-paying your way through a child birth is much more affordable than in the world where we come from!  We are anticipating the cost to be between $5k-$7k, US dollars.  We feel very blessed to have access to affordable private healthcare here, and we feel confident in the doctors and the hospital that will deliver this little one into our lives!

We’ve reviewed our budget and the monthly giving we have been receiving, and have determined that we need to raise additional support in the amount of $800/mo.

To break that down into more a more tangible figure, most of our donors give recurring monthly contributions through some sort of electronic payment (credit card or bank transfer), and the average monthly donation falls somewhere between $25 and $100.  If we could get 16 new donors to contribute on average at $50/mo, we would reach our new budget.  Some folks choose to give once a year (around tax time or at year-end), which is just as fine for us as well.  And we have a few folks that give via stock transfers, which is a great way for someone to contribute from stocks to a non-profit without having to pay taxes on those funds.  If you would be willing to join our support-team moving forward, please go to the ITeams Online Giving page and fill out the form with “Brandon & Hannah Weidman” in the On Behalf Of field.

Also, for those who would like to contribute to our budget without giving a dime, you can do so by giving us a Real Estate referral, simply by connecting me with anyone you know who is buying or selling a home or refinancing a mortgage.  Some of you probably remember that I worked in Real Estate prior to moving to Nicaragua, and in fact, over the past 3.5 years nearly one third of our total support has come from our friends in the real estate industry, including real estate agents, mortgage lenders, Title companies…etc. We would love nothing more than to be able to send business their way in reciprocation for the support they’ve sent us over the years.  So please keep that in mind this year!  Your real estate referrals result in us receiving mission support!  Pretty cool.

Lastly, I thought it would be helpful to clarify one aspect of the work we do and how it relates to our income.  As you know, we have several small businesses in Nicaragua.  We have personally invested in a few of them, but for the most part they have been developed out of our mission support funds.  In either case, we have never taken a dollar in income out of those businesses.  The reason we’ve done business here was never to support us financially, but rather to support our Nicaraguan team and the work we do here in Masatepe.  We’ve had many people over the past few years assume that we make a living off of that income, and although that would be okay in some cases, it’s simply not how these businesses are currently structured, and in addition to that our current residency status in Nicaragua is “Missionary – no work” which means we do not have permission to work for profit.  We prefer to empower Nicaraguans and grow the businesses versus use them as a vehicle for raising our own support anyway.  If you’ve been supporting Hannah and I over these past few years, you’ve been supporting those businesses and the other projects we do here as well.  We just wanted to make sure everyone understood that.  In the coming days/weeks you will see us promoting Beto’s Coffee Co. and a big push to grow our online sales via a Kickstarter Campaign.  That is completely separate from the funds we personally have to raise to cover our living expenses while living in Nicaragua.  We appreciate your support at every level though!

Feel free to email us personally to privately discuss funding our work.  Thanks to each of you for the encouragement you continually show us through financial support, prayer, visiting us in person, sending us encouraging notes, and the love you’ve shown us and Lucas as a family!  We wouldn’t do any of this without you.  With Jesus, and with each other, we can change the future.  Thanks for joining us in seeing that happen in Masatepe.

 

Remembering 2015

When there’s a lot to share, sometimes less is more and pictures can tell the better story. Here are last year’s highlights:

We started 2015 by receiving one of the greatest blessings of our lives, our adopted son Lucas Oliver Weidman.

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A restaurant was added onto the coffee shop and we increased our inventory for Beto’s products. With the addition of new responsibilities and a higher demand in the businesses the team grew to 16. We also launched a new website for our products: www.allthingscoffee.org.

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In the spring Brandon participated in a local missions trip with the church. They rode out on dirt bikes to reach a struggling and remote community to bless them with better conditions and share the hope found in Jesus.

Motorcycle mission 4 Motorcycle Mission 8 Motorcycle Mission 91

Over the summer we had an infusion of youth and fresh ideas when 4 interns stormed into our lives. They knocked out projects, embraced the locals, and brought a lot of laughter to the team.

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Faithful friends from Heartland Community Church in Medina, OH showed up twice in 2015. Each time with an outpouring of love and desire to minister to many of our local partnerships. They served handicapped children, the chronically ill, the elderly, teenage girls, preschoolers, prisoners, the fire department, a rural church, and two special men named Juan and William.

Heartland team Juan12191478_1095415403803782_8632077337276857024_n

In the fall we were given the opportunity to rent the building next to the coffee shop. With the help of many, the space was converted into offices for ITeams, a Chamber of Commerce, and available space for housing guests.

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The Chamber of Commerce was launched with the help of University of Illinois’ Enactus group. We held an inauguration meeting to find out local interest and had 15 local businesses sign on as founding members.

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After many obstacles were overcome, a preschool was built for the children who live near the local landfill. With the help of Heartland Community Church, a local business, and the local government, a new school was erected just in time for their graduation in December.

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Just before the year could be wrapped up, one more project was snuck in. With a partnership between Elanco, OneEgg, a local expert, and ITeams, we launched a chicken egg farm with 2400 birds. The goal is to increase to 4,000 chickens next year and be able to donate one egg a day to all the preschool kids in Masatepe, some 500 or so.

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Where are we going in 2016? More on that soon, but here’s a sneak peak. Our team will be growing by 8 and our family by one!!

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Letters to Lucas

Our dearest son,

Many have asked us to capture your story, to place the miraculous in a concrete form.  Memories once lived look for places to hide and be forgotten, but these will not be…

Our wait was 9 months before we were cradling you in our arms, kissing your cheek, fingers and toes. You were the most magnificent surprise on an ordinary day. It was a Thursday afternoon; papa was in a Skype meeting while mama was preparing the living room to receive the girls for Noche de Chicas. The phone began to ring persistently…

“We have a 3 day old baby for you, and we need you to pick him up right now. Do you agree?”

Your mama ran into your papa’s office barely able to whisper this dream come true:

“We got the call and it’s a baby boy.”

Your papa ended his meeting and grabbed your mama’s hands, praying and giving thanks for the blessing that was changing our lives by the minute.

We quickly announced to your “aunts” and “uncles” that we were leaving immediately to pick you up. Aunt Sara led Noche de Chicas and Aunt Marjorie packed a “baby-go” bag,   diapers, your favorite milk, and new clothes. On our way out of Masatepe, we drove by Aunt Angela as she was receiving the news by phone. Only 40 minutes had passed and news of you was traveling fast!

The hour drive to Managua was not adhering to the laws of time. Surely it was a lifetime   getting to you.

In route Aunt Marjorie asked if we’d chosen a name for you.

“Lucas.”

Why this name? Well, it belongs to your grandparents Jerry and Betty. It’s bi-lingual. (You’ll appreciate that later.) It’s also the last name of mama’s childhood friend who was adopted from Korea, spelled Lukas.

And it means… “Light Giving”

When we arrived, you were waiting for us as we stepped through the doorway of becoming parents.

“Here’s your son!”

Our arms and our hearts were embracing you that very moment! You were the tiniest, sweetest bundle we’d ever seen! We listened to the beginning of your story, and one day you’ll know it too, but on this day we were writing something new!

As we were driving you home, you were nestled in mama’s arms, making the smallest coos when suddenly Aunt Marjorie looks at the sleeve of mama’s shirt and gasps. Little did mama know that morning when she got ready that your name would be written on her sleeve.

Lucas a “Giver of Light!” You have lived up to your name in every way. Your eyes shine brightly and you spread joy with your smile to all you meet and know! We often say you are the child of a thousand aunts, each one claiming a special title. Friends and family have traveled far to meet you. Clients in the coffee shop ask to hold you. Neighbors call out your name as they’re passing by. Strangers return your smile. Little kids ask to play with you. It’s simply amazing how you have been adopted into the hearts of many!

Now ten months later we arrive to today. Another ordinary day, but in an extraordinary way you became officially ours!

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We love you very much, Lucas Oliver Weidman Schipp!!

Mama and Papa

Pictures of you with family and friends.

Lucas Collage

Letter from your Big Papa:
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If you would like to write a letter to Lucas as well, please share it in a comment.

Be Thankful

“I’m going to lose my home,” says a Nicaraguan woman with tears streaming down her face.

“Be thankful. There are some who don’t even have a home to lose. You do.”

 

Although I heard this conversation 2 months ago, it wasn’t until today that my heart and mind reached a place of understanding.


 

Plans change.

As a relatively spontaneous person, plans changing is something I’ve embraced. Now having lived in Nicaragua for 3 years, it’s been pounded into my head. But when the change of plans creates a loss, I’m slower to embrace it, if at all. Our plans to be home for Thanksgiving did change and there’s been very little embracing on my part, as evident in today’s lunch:

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But if I were to replace my situation with the conversation above, it’d go something like this:

 

“I’m going to miss seeing my family on Thanksgiving,” says Hannah with tears streaming down her face.

Be thankful. There are some who don’t even have a family to miss. You do.”

 

Could it be that simple?

 

I heard someone speak this week who experienced a great loss recently. His message was on forgiveness and how it is not a feeling, but a daily decision. He went on to say:

 

“If you wait till you feel like you’re ready to forgive, then you’re never ever really going to be able to forgive because when someone inflicts pain on you or an offense this grave, I don’t think you ever feel like forgiving.”

(Pastor Davey Blackburn: Path of Forgiveness)

When I view thankfulness not as a feeling, but as a choice, it becomes possible. And it’s possible, even when tears are streaming down my face.

11800338_10153445868946730_4203017010922249336_nBeing thankful is a lesson Nicaraguans have been teaching me, person by person:

A thankful widow.

A thankful blind woman.

A thankful cripple.

A thankful deaf and mute girl.

A thankful dying man.

A thankful homeless man.

A thankful mom who’s lost her son.

 

What makes these people extraordinary is not their circumstances, but their choice to be thankful amidst them. A daily choice made, week after week, month after month, and year after year. They did not wait for the feelings of loss, sadness, or hopelessness to go away before they became thankful. 

 

So with them, I choose thankfulness.

And I will also be making a pumpkin pie. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Preschool Construction

Back in 2014, when we met with our new friends at Arrimate Masatepe, a Nicaraguan volunteer group that focus on providing better education here in our extremely under-resourced school systems, we asked them what their biggest dream was in order to transform the education realm in our community.  Their answer was to provide for the neediest and youngest children in the system.  Specifically, there were four preschools in our community that were in desperate need of attention.  In the case of all four of the schools, they were makeshift buildings that consisted of plastic wrapped around tree branches for the walls, rusty sheet metal, dirt floors, and volunteer teachers.  We asked them if we could go see each of the four and so one morning we went around visiting the schools, meeting the amazing teachers that do so much with so little, and meeting dozens of cute little preschool aged kids that didn’t seem to even notice the conditions of their “school” as being anything but normal.  As we drove away from the last visit that morning, we committed to join our friends at Arrimate in investing in those kids.

Last July we were joined by Bridgeway Community Church from Fishers, Indiana, and rebuilt one of those four schools.  The new school building has since been used for community meetings and health clinics, serving the kids in more ways than just providing a classroom.  More than that even, the encouragement that school has been to that rural community goes far beyond the impact that what we could ever measure. http://www.ourmissionstory.com/kingdom-work/

We are excited to have the opportunity this October to tackle the second school of those original four.  We will be rebuilding the preschool that sits just outside the Masatepe city landfill, one of the poorest areas in our community.  This one is a slightly larger project than the last because this school hosts 3 grades of preschool, essentially preschool through kindergarten, and our friends at Heartland Community Church from Medina, Ohio have committed to helping make this possible alongside our friends at Arrimate.  We could use all of your help in reaching this goal though, as it’s a $10,000 project to build the school we have planned.  Please take the time to check out the fundraising site we’ve put together for this project and consider getting involved financially.  Many of the folks reading this blog have been here to Masatepe and have seen the landfill first-hand.  Many of you may remember the outreach events we’ve done the past two Decembers, bringing the kids from the landfill community in to the Coffee Shop to celebrate Christmas together. http://www.ourmissionstory.com/rivers-in-the-wasteland/

Here’s the link to the fundraising site, where you can watch a short video about this project and find out more: https://www.crowdrise.com/100dayspreschool/fundraiser/heartlandcommunitych

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A different kind of missions

ITeams is launching a brand new program called Empowerment Teams to be rolled out amongst all of the communities where we work around the globe. After years of doing global missions in dozens of Countries, this is where we feel God has led ITeams in terms of partnering with churches and short-term-teams.  I am fully on-board with what they are proposing, as it’s very aligned with how we want to partner with Nicaraguans here in Masatepe when bringing in outside partners.  Luckily for us, ITeams decided to use Masatepe as a pilot location for the program.  In October, they are bringing down a group of pastors and church leaders from a handful of churches across the US, to explore what this might look like together.  They opened it up for me to invite some churches from our own network as well.  We would love for those of you who follow our blog to consider if your church would be interested in exploring this opportunity with us in October and beyond.

Empowerment Teams from my perspective, are what I would call “advanced missions”.  They are geared towards avoiding the all-to-common when-helping-hurts missions approach, and involve smaller, more intimate teams that go deep in a specific community.  This is not big missions, big teams, missional-tourism.  These will be teams of 6-10 members who “get it”, coming down to come alongside our Nicaraguan partners and empowering them to impact their own communities while we learn from each other mutually.  This is a recognition that we need other cultures as much as they need us.  This is a recognition that poverty is not the opposite of materialism or merely a lack of material things, but is a presence of broken-relationships.  This is the Good Samaritan seeking out the Innkeeper.

If this sounds like something your church or small-group would be interested in.  We invite you to look over the flyer below and consider coming down in October, or sending a key leader from your church to explore this with us.  This trip in October is not a mission trip, but rather a vision trip to dream together with ITeams, with Hannah and Brandon, with other church leaders from across the US, and with our Nicaraguan partners.  This could be the start of something big and I can’t wait to see how God brings people around this concept.  Read more here: Empowerment Teams proposal

Emails can be sent to brandon.weidman@iteams.org to discuss this further.

Vision Trip Flyer

 

Sending and Receiving

Last week, Hannah posted a blog about the four interns we received this Summer who are leaving their mark on Masatepe.  It’s been great having them and they will certainly be missed come August.  That’s honestly a big part of living and working abroad, receiving guests and watching others come and then go.  We have hosted countless guests in our nearly three years of living here and each of them left their own mark in their own way.  Most of them will come back again, because Nicaragua has that effect on people.  In fact, for most of our visitors, traveling internationally is not really that big of a deal.  Getting visas approved is as easy as presenting a passport, and paying for flights isn’t that big of a stretch considering that most of us can find $600 for a round-trip ticket if we dig deep enough.

But Hannah and I have seen another side of this as well.  The reality that most of our Nicaraguan friends simply do not enjoy the same luxury.  $600 for a round trip flight, for the average Nicaraguan, would be the equivalent of nearly 3 months income.  Ouch.  Even if you could come up with 3 months worth of income in order to purchase the tickets, there’s a very small chance your visa would even get approved.  Unlike us North Americans, getting a visa is not as simple as presenting a passport at the airport. Rather, it’s a long and costly process that has to be finalized prior to even purchasing your flights.  It requires an intimidating trip to the US Embassy in Managua to stand before a consulate employee for a verbal interview in which you are required to state why you are going and why they should believe you’ll actually come back to the 2nd poorest nation in this half of the world.  If you are a flight risk, chances are slim you’ll get approved.  That means if they don’t believe you have enough motive to come back to your home Country within the given amount of time, the US government will prevent you from entering the Country in the first place.  That whole process costs a few hundred more dollars and more people are denied than approved.

All that to be said, it’s not impossible and in fact we’ve been encouraged lately by seeing the dream of traveling abroad for some of our close Nicaraguan friends become a reality.  In fact, last week we had three of our employees “out of the office” at the same time as they were each traveling to different Countries.  Three Nicaraguans, all from very humble beginnings, out traveling the world!  We couldn’t have been any prouder of these three for making the effort to set their sites further than most of their peers will dare, and for allowing God to show up in big ways when they fully trust in his provision!  Here are there stories:

Sara, most of you will remember as “the girl from the video” (https://vimeo.com/123106498), who set her heart on a missionary training program in Asia, and after raising a considerable amount of money to cover flights and the program costs, she boarded a plane in Managua back in Late May and her final destination was Singapore!  From Singapore, she will visit a handful of other Countries in Asia and will go through an intensive training program that includes bible training, evangelism, preaching and missions.  We’re excited to see the change God has worked in her through this experience when she returns to Nicaragua in August!  What an amazing adventure for a young lady just for following God’s leading into the unknown!  Here is the latest update we received from Sara, which is incredibly encouraging:

I’ve been in Singapore now for a month. Time flies! I’ve learned a lot about God, and I’m still learning. Every day is a new powerful experience. I’m learning about how to improve my relationship with God. Learning about His Holy Presence, His anointing, how to yield to the Spirit and how to share the Gospel with others. I have felt the Holy Spirit working on me already. It’s something new to me, but I’m doing my best to get to know Him better.  Honestly, everything about Him is new to me. I got to know Him every day, and feel Him in different ways. Now He has become more real and closer to me. This is definitely an amazing experience!  Well, next Tuesday July 7th, we are going to Cambodia for almost a month. We are going to work with orphanages, and some ministries the pastor has started there.  So, if you can pray for me, that God can open my heart, eyes, and so I can learn more there, and hear clearly what is God’s call in my life. I’m open to God’s plan. I just want to obey Him. Thank you so much for being part of this, and for your support and prayers!

Sara in Singapore

Eliezer, who’s parents both work for us in the coffee shop (Giovanny and Maria for those of you who know our crew), and who also was working as a Barrista himself earlier this year, is spending the Summer in our hometown of Fishers, Indiana!  Eliezer went through the YWAM DTS program here in Nicaragua last Winter, where he learned a fair amount of English in addition to all that he learned about sharing his faith and doing ministry.  Upon finishing the program he was wondering what was next in his life.  Our home church, Bridgeway Community Church in Fishers, IN, invited Eliezer to spend the Summer as an intern with them, and he decided to go for it.  I had the joy of sitting through the nerve-racking visa appointment with him in the Embassy, and right when I thought the consulate employee was going to turn him away, they invited me to go up and speak on his behalf (which never happens!).  He was approved, and in May he boarded his first flight ever and set out on his own through the confusing maze of airports until finally arriving at his destination in Indianapolis for a 3 month stay.  It’s been great hearing how well this experience has gone for him and I can’t wait to have him back in Masatepe again in August to see what’s next in his journey.  For those of you in the Fishers area who are reading this email, be sure to reach out to Eliezer and invite him to a meal and get to know him!  When you’re living abroad, a friendly invitation goes a long way to making you feel at home!  And you’ll be blessed to get to know him better in your time together!

Eli internship

Ana, another Barrista at our coffee shop, is also one of the lead singers in the worship band at our church.  Ana has a beautiful voice and uses it to bring Glory to the One who gave it to her any chance she gets!  You can hear her sing in this video, which was just shot last week, and you can practice your Spanish while you’re at it!  Ana was recently invited to go on a missions trip to Haiti and although she wasn’t sure how she could possible afford it, she felt the call to go and signed up.  Of course, God provided for Ana’s trip.  Nicaragua is the 2nd poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, meaning there’s only one nation that’s poorer….Haiti.  Hearing Ana’s testimony when she got back from her trip to Haiti was so incredibly powerful.  Hearing someone who’s from a Country engulfed in poverty, talk about the unbelievable poverty she experienced in Haiti, was eyeopening, and I was so thankful she got that experience and that we got to hear about it through her.

Ana in Haiti
 Hearing Ana describe Haiti felt so similar to how we described Nicaragua upon returning from our first missions trip down here years ago!  As much as I wish everyone could experience that feeling of awe and amazement when we get immersed in a totally different culture and context, I couldn’t be happier that our Nicaraguan friends are getting that same experience this Summer.  Missions can be about so many things, but at the core it’s about one thing and one thing only….expanding our understanding of how big God really is.  Everyone deserves that experience, which is why for us, sending is as important as receiving.

Join us in making more trips like this possible by making a donation to the Masatepe Scholarship Fund, designated specifically to empower young Nicaraguans to reach their dreams.